Two of British cinema’s enduring talents are behind this devilishly funny black comedy: Sidney Launder and Frank Gilliat produced and wrote The Green Man, basing it on their own play, Meet A Body. The film reunites them with several of their favourite actors, including Alastair Sim and George Cole, both of whom also appeared in the duo’s St Trinian’s comedy series. They’re joined by another comedy great, Terry-Thomas, in this ’50s take on a subject covered in more recent years by the likes of Grosse Pointe Blank .
Sim stars as Hawkins, a professional assassin with a British knight in his sights. Sir Gregory Upshott (Raymond Huntley) is the man in mortal danger and when his secretary, Marigold (Avril Angers), comes to learn of the plot on her boss’s life, Hawkins dispatches his assistant, McKechnie (John Chandos), to deal with the situation. Things don’t go as planned, however, and soon Marigold has told a passing vacuum cleaner salesman, William Blake (Cole), and Hawkins’ new neighbour (Jill Adams) of the murder plot. In a bid to foil the plan, William goes to the scene of the would-be crime: the Green Man, a hotel on the south coast where Sir Gregory is spending the weekend with one of his typists. As the planned time of the assassination draws ever closer, the laughs and the tension increase.
Taking pot shots at some enduring British interests (the BBC, the state of the National Health Service, dirty weekends), The Green Man remains a sparkling black comedy which recalls the macabre wit of Kind Hearts And Coronets and The Ladykillers.
UK / 1956
Director: Robert Day
Writers: Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder (based on their own play)
Cast: Alastair Sim, George Cole, Jill Adams, Terry-Thomas, Avril Angers, John Chandos, Dora Bryan, Colin Gordon